Originally published on The Mighty
When we talk about suicide, we usually talk about it in terms of mental health and mental illnesses. She was depressed. He was “struggling.” She had mental illness for years.
When we talk about chronic pain, especially in light of the opioid crisis, we often focus on the clinical, the diagnoses. The “risks.” Her doctor should never have written that prescription. Opioids are “no good.” Why couldn’t she just take ibuprofen?
What we need to do is start talking about the intersection between suicide, mental health and chronic pain. We need to stop believing chronic pain is just something you “suck up and deal with” and that suicide is just a matter of someone being “sad” and “not strong enough.” We need to talk about the very real fact that chronic pain is a unique factor that can lead to suicide — and the fact that we’re not doing enough to stop it. Leaving people with chronic pain out of the suicide prevention discussion can be, quite literally, deadly.